On June 22 from 2-3 p.m., Virginia Tech students and employees are being asked to turn off and unplug all noncritical lighting and electrical loads. The one-hour “Lights Out!/Power Down!” event is held annually to test the university’s ability to reduce its energy usage on demand.
To help save energy, the community is asked to consider:
Turning off lights in offices, common areas, and hallways;
Turning off personal computers and peripherals not in use;
Turning off shared electronics (televisions, projectors, copiers, printers, fax machines, etc.) not in use;
Unplugging appliances (coffee makers, refrigerators, washers/dryers, cooking equipment, etc.) not in use; and
Turning off laboratory equipment not in use.
Throughout the day, facilities department employees will canvass buildings to encourage and assist building occupants in turning off and powering down.
Additionally, air conditioning levels in select, noncritical areas will be reduced. Those impacted will be notified prior to the event.
Campus electric power consumption will be closely monitored before, during, and after “Lights Out!/Power Down!” to determine the impact of campus participation.
In June 2016, during the same event, Virginia Tech reduced its energy consumption by over 7,000 kilowatts and received a $145,000 payment for its participation. This year, the university hopes to reduce its energy consumption by 7,000 kilowatts again, and will receive a $221,000 payment for successfully participating.
The annual energy reduction program, officially called the “Interruptible Load Reliability” (ILR)” is part of Virginia Tech’s agreement with PJM Interconnection, the regional electric grid operator. The program is overseen by the Virginia Department of Mining, Minerals, and Energy and administered by CPower Inc.
As a large consumer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech’s commitment helps ensure that residents don’t lose power during times of peak energy usage, including hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. This annual program allows the university to test its ability to meet that demand should those conditions occur.
This initiative is part of Virginia Tech’s larger commitment to reaching a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020, improving energy efficiency where and whenever possible in campus buildings, to achieving a minimum LEED rating of silver for all new construction, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. These goals are outlined in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, which was approved by the Board of Visitors in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2013.